The mention of child abuse will make most parents think of sexual predators and the measures that they can take to keep their children safe. However, we need to realise that child abuse isn’t just sexual maltreatment of the child, but also physical, mental and emotional ill treatment. And as parents we have to ensure that we do not put them through any abuse.
While physical abuse can leave bruises and marks, emotional abuse leaves deep scars which don’t heal. One cause of emotional abuse can be the use of inappropriate voice and tone by the parent with the child.
Parenting is a very demanding task, to lose patience with a child is natural as the child doesn’t understand reason or logic, but one has to be very careful with their choice of words, tone even body language when dealing with a child.
By raising your voice with them (or with other people when the child is watching), by conjuring up images of creatures to scare the child to make them obey, constant criticism, negative comparisons with other children, by issuing threats, by saying things that humiliate them, one could be causing emotional distress in the child.
Even the tiniest of child, who engages in conversation with you, by eye contact only, is perceptive of all these things.
Children can cope with being denied a toy, a gadget, a shoe or new bag, what they cannot cope with is admonishment. An attack on their developing self esteem can impact their social skills, alter their behaviour and change their personality.
A child needs to hear a ‘No’ from their parent, but you have say it with empathy. As a parent we may have to repeatedly say ‘No’ to the child’s for their well being but we have to make sure that our demeanor – words, actions, body language – is laced with love and not malice or impatience.
Remember, loud voice cannot do what a gentle tete a tete with the child can do.
Children who are scared of their parents may grow up to have insecurities, trust issues and low self-esteem. Due to this, they tend to bottle up their feelings and take them out all at once in unexpected ways.
We should never forget the positive effects of appreciating our child. We all want our child to grow into virtuous, confident individuals, for which we need to lay a foundation of love in their lives. So ensure that even your scoldings and corrections carry and convey your love for your child.
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